Tricked

London, May 21, 2014

A man walked along the Thames from the Bridge towards the Eye, on his way to supper at the Sherlock Holmes Pub. As he was walking and thinking, he saw a street magician performing illusions to nobody in particular.

The man stopped a few meters away and watched as the magician made a card disappear from his hand. The lady and her son, who was standing there, gave the magician some money, but whilst she put the money in the hat which the magician had placed on the ground, the magician pocketed the lady’s watch. The man saw that and was impressed. He walked over to the street magician and said:

“Impressive. Alright, if you can show me a magic trick without scamming me or stealing from me, I will give you one hundred pounds. However, if you fail to impress me – all you will get is a pence and a shout to the Bobby over there.” He pointed to the constable on patrol.

“Alright old man, I’ll take you up on your offer”, said the magician.

He got out a deck of cards and shuffled them.

“Pick a card, look at it, memorise it and put it back into the deck, but don’t tell me what it is.”

The man picked a card. The King of Diamonds. He gently put it back in the deck. The magician shuffled some more and did the trick. He pulled out a card and asked:

“Is this your card?”

“No”, the man replied.

The magician looked confused at the card – a two of Spades.

The man smiled and turned to gesture towards the Bobby to inspect the magician, but as he was doing so, the magician grabbed his arm.

“Again.”

“Alright. Double or a night in prison”, said the man.

The magician shuffled the deck again and told the man to pick a card. The Ace of Hearts. He put the card back in the deck.

“Is this your card?” asked the magician with less enthusiasm than the previous time.

“No”, replied the man.

It was the seven of Clubs.

The magician was very confused now. He had done the trick over and over hundreds of times and each time he got it right.

“Once more, then I have to go. But if you get it right, I will give you 500 Pounds for the effort”, said the man.

The magician remained quiet as he shuffled the deck for the last time. The man again picked a card. The Ten of Clubs. The magician showed the man a card. Six of Hearts.

“Well, it seems that you have lost your magical touch with all the stealing and scamming. Maybe you should focus more on the practice than the reward.”

The magician’s face had gone white. He didn’t know what to say. Maybe he had lost his ability to actually entertain.

“I thought the first lesson in performing magic was misdirection?” said the man.

With that, the man turned around and started walking away. The magician was very, very confused. He didn’t understand what the man had meant. Then he looked down at his deck and saw that four cards were the wrong way around. The King of Diamonds, the Ace of Hearts, the ten of Clubs and a fourth card wrapped in five hundred Pound notes.

The magician unwrapped it and started smiling. He put the money in his wallet and the Joker back in the deck.

The End

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Giulia on Stilettos

So recently, Alfa Romeo released the Giulia, a sporty four-door sedan to do battle with the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4. What is incredible is that all the Giulias will be rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and will come optional with all-wheel-drive (AWD) for the European market. The point is, it is refreshing that Alfa Romeo did not go with the normal front-wheel-drive (FWD) layout and AWD for sporty versions layout that most manufacturers use these days. Even Ford has resorted to AWD in its Focus RS.

Another good thing is that not only does the sporty Quadrofoglio Verde version (my personal favourite) comes with a carbon driveshaft (the bit that goes from the engine to the drive-wheels that makes the car go), but the normal versions as well – even the Diesel!

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Now, one car will not be able to bring Alfa back to the top of the ‘Passionate-Cars’ category. Like Jaguar has done recently with the F-Pace (silly name), Alfa Romeo unveiled the new Stelvio  (shown below), a take on the smaller SUV segment. Its styling is heavily influenced by the Giulia and to me looks like a Giulia on stilettos. But I like it. It’s just as pretty as its smaller sister and I imagine that it will have the same 2.9L Bi-Turbo V6 producing as much power as a BMW E60 M5. Imagine that – 375KW in a car the size of the F-Pace (if the F-Pace had the monstrous 5.0L Supercharged V8 from the XFR or Range Rover Supercharged, which would be awesome). Yes, most other SUVs get more than that, like the X5M and X6M, Mercedes and all its different versions of the used-to-be ML – even Land Rover itself. But, do you get that power from anything as pretty as the Stelvio or the Giulia? No, no, you do not. I mean, look at those hood vents! I really hope they make it to the production car.

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I always liked Alfa Romeo. I thought of it as the Ferrari for normal people who can’t afford a Ferrari. Then Top Gear praised Alfa Romeo and I liked it even more. The 147 GTA was one of the best cars on Gran Turismo 4. Heck, I think I still have a 300KW version on one of my PS2 saves. The 156 is just as pretty, especially later models – and then there is the 159, which I am actually looking at to buy as a first car (Yes, I know about all the various problems).

So yes, the Stelvio. No one knows how it will drive yet, or if it will be able to go off-road, but damn, is it pretty! Even if it only stays in the city like some kind of soccer-mom car *cough* Range Rover *cough*, I am just glad that it is a thing that exists.